One thing that experienced ice anglers know is that there are no guarantees when you’re looking for perch. They tend to be finicky and have a tendency to roam, which can challenge all levels of experience. To start, look in areas like bays, drop-offs near weed lines, soft bottom areas, flats, and anywhere where there are still healthy weeds.
You’ll learn quickly that not all schools of perch behave in the same way. For instance, one school of perch may be situated on deep, soft-bottom where they can feed on aquatic insects, while another school may move along a weedy bay chasing minnows. In the middle of winter, smaller perch tend to hold in the shallows, while larger fish can be found in deep water. Try to focus on structure like flats or points, but be prepared to cover a lot of ground in order to locate them.
If you have the means to buy them, ice fishing electronics will definitely improve your ability to find fish under the ice. A portable sonar, for instance, shows you water depth and tells you if there are fish in the area. Furthermore, the sonar’s bottom signal will tell you whether you’re over a hard or soft bottom area. Perch tend to prefer a soft bottom, especially because that’s where bloodworms are found. Another great tool is an underwater camera, which allows you to see if perch are in the area.
GPS units are also great tools to have, as they can be used to mark structures where you’ve found perch, as well as other important features, like lake access points. You can even store extra data, such as back road maps and underwater lake contours, to make these units even more powerful and effective.
Perch are a delicious species and you with the tips above fresh in your mind, you can fill your freezer with them this winter. Good luck to you all, and be sure to stay warm and safe while you’re out on the ice.